Charitable Mood: An Altruistic Method for Boosting Your Sales Numbers
Corporate social responsibility is becoming a more common component of B2B business strategies. Here’s how you can adopt it and benefit in multiple ways.
November 7, 2017
In the past, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has largely been a consideration for the B2C sector, but these days B2B companies are increasingly gravitating toward giving.
Wireless solutions provider Baka Communications teamed with urban farmers Fresh City to donate land for a vegetable greenhouse. Qlik, a business intelligence firm, has a robust CSR initiative called “Change Our World.” Microsoft rallies workers to participate in its Employee Giving Program, and has been for more than 30 years.
These companies have seen the upside of engaging in CSR, but they remain outliers in the B2B space. They likely won’t be for long. We’re already seeing a shift in this regard, and your organization -- or even just you personally -- could see a positive impact by joining the wave.
Benefits of B2B Corporate Social Responsibility
Obviously, it feels good to give back. Helping others is fulfilling and tends to make our jobs more satisfying. But if you’re looking for more concrete business reasons to include CSR in your strategy, here are a few:
Improves Your Company’s Reputation
Research in 2013 found that 82 percent of consumers consider corporate responsibility when they shop. While the number is not as high for businesses, which traditionally have a more myopic focus on the bottom line, CSR is a growing factor in evaluating solutions.
“Companies want companies that have a great reputation,” Baka CEO John Marion told B2B News Network. “If I have a choice, I’d rather deal with a company that’s got a better report card on social responsibility.”
He’s certainly not alone. We see more and more B2B organizations building CSR into their corporate cultures, and demographic trends undoubtedly play a role in that, as we’ll cover next.
Millennials Love CSR
The statistics show that millennials, more than other cohorts, will switch brand allegiances to support those with a cause. As these individuals begin to overtake decision-making business roles, their personal leanings will weigh more heavily in B2B operations. By working to establish your company as a socially conscious entity, you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to wooing clients… and talent.
Powerful Recruiting Tool
Not only do millennials prefer doing business with socially responsible companies, they also prefer working for them. A study from Pew Research found that millennials prioritize helping people in need over a higher-paying position.
How to Get B2B CSR Right
It’s easy to see the benefits of jumping on board with CSR, but doing so requires the proper approach. There are two imperatives with this strategy: selecting a cause that resonates, and making your efforts visible but not overt.
Find the Right Cause
There are plenty of deserving nonprofits and charitable organizations out there, but it helps to find one that fits contextually. If your company or CEO is an outspoken advocate for environmentalism, then a sustainability initiative makes sense. If you work in the IT industry, you might donate to a group that teaches tech skills to underprivileged youths, for instance.
Or, you can choose a cause that will strike a chord with your high-value client or prospect. There are often clues within a member’s LinkedIn profile -- checking their personal interests and volunteer experience might uncover a passion.
Don’t Play It Up Too Much
Corporate social responsibility can certainly carry business advantages, but that shouldn’t be the main reason for doing it and you absolutely don’t want to give that appearance. When companies promote their CSR undertakings too forcefully, it begins to look like a marketing mechanism, which isn’t at all what you want.
“As good as your CSR strategy may be, promoting the fact you have one is often a company’s downfall,” writes B2B Marketing. “Using your CSR activities in your marketing strategy can undermine your work and ultimately be detrimental to your business practices.”
Try to be subtle in communicating this aspect of the business or goodwill can turn the wrong way in a hurry.
If you’re a salesperson in an organization that doesn’t take part in CSR, and isn’t open to it at this time, you can always incorporate it into your personal selling approach. Use the same tactics above individually, and make charitable giving a part of your persona. For example, you could come up with a plan to contribute a certain percentage of your commissions -- or volunteer hours based on hitting milestones -- to a cause with personal significance (e.g. a foundation dedicated to fighting a disease that affected a loved one). Then, mention it at the bottom of your email signature, or somewhere on your LinkedIn profile.
It might help you strengthen your personal brand, but more importantly, the act might help someone else who could really use it.
What else do buyers care about? LinkedIn recently surveyed hundreds of B2B buyers around the globe to better understand their motivations, preferences, and purchasing strategies. To see the results, download Influencing B2B Buyers: New Insights into B2B Purchase Drivers.